We couldn’t believe it was snowing. It hadn’t snowed all year and yet today of all days - the day Fr Michael and Oliver were doing their skydive - it began to snow!
Our grumpiness at the bad weather was placated as soon as we arrived at Hinton skydiving school because, there, we were warmly greeted by all the lovely St Martin De Porres parishioners. It was a grey Saturday morning outside but inside the excitement fizzled. There is something enjoyable about watching other people do daring acts, such as skydiving, knowing that you can watch safely by.
Fr Michael was asked about 100 times that morning ‘how he was doing’, ‘was he nervous’, ‘had he made his will’? On top of that I annoyed him by interviewing him a few times and shoving a camera in his face every five minutes. But him and Oliver were very composed and very gracious.
The amount of support both of them had was moving. There were colourful banners buoying them on and plenty of encouraging words. All the waiting we had to do provided a good opportunity to chat to one another more. Our conversations traversed unusual territories and we ended up speaking a lot about the extremes we would go to for those we loved. ‘Would you eat 100 spiders if your boyfriend’s life depended on it’?
We watched as the professionals gave Oliver and Fr Michael their instructions, we watched as they bravely left the hall to board their planes, we watched as they fidgeted nervously and waved to us before boarding their planes and we watched after them as they ascended into the open sky. Gathered together on a cold Saturday morning in the middle of a huge empty field looking up at the sky – we must have been a funny sight. Then someone’s finger pointed to some small black blobs in the sky gliding down toward planet earth. ‘It’s them’. As they came closer we saw parachutes, we saw legs dangling and we saw our men: Oliver and Fr Michael. We cheered as they landed legs in front of them sliding along the ground like blundering pigeons. When Fr Michael untangled himself from his instructor and his parachute the smile on his face was lovely. His face was flushed red, which you’d expect after dropping from the sky at such speed, but his eyes were bright and happy.
I managed to nab him for a post-skydive interview and it was interesting to watch him fumble through my questions. I could tell he was still taking it all in, still registering all that had happened. Then he told us what the experience was like. ‘It was beautiful to have a birds-eye view of God’s creation’, he said.
After interviewing Fr Michael I think we all felt the possibilities of the world open up around us. There is a hunger inside each human heart to see beauty, to quarry into the unknown, to explore this mysterious world of ours and uncover all the treasures it holds. Isn’t this what man has been doing for millennia? Never should we allow fear to dull the hunger we have within. Fr Michael and Oliver have showed us that with love, hope and prayer there is nothing we cannot do.
Yesterday I went for a wander in a beautiful countryside village outside West Wycombe called Pidington. I was completely entranced as I watched the red kites glide through the sky. They are so elegant in the way they swoop and dive; they seem to flirt with the air, teasing the wind and riding its waves so graciously. They must have the most wonderful view of the world. They can fly over the fields, the mountains, the sea. They see those little black blobs called ‘human beings’ who rush around bumping into one another and not noticing the beauty that surrounds them. Perhaps for a few moments that too is what Fr Michael and Oliver saw.
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